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Frank Bowling, 2020. © Frank Bowling. All Rights Reserved, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2021. Photo: Sacha Bowlin/Hauser & Wirth.
Frank Bowling, 2020. © Frank Bowling. All Rights Reserved, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2021. Photo: Sacha Bowlin/Hauser & Wirth.

Frank Bowling Wins 2022 Wolfgang Hahn Prize

Guyanese-born, London-based artist Frank Bowling has been announced as the winner of the 2022 Wolfgang Hahn prize. He will receive the award at a ceremony taking place November 15 of next year, the evening before Art Cologne 2022 opens. The Museum Ludwig will acquire his 2020 acrylic-on-canvas work Flogging the Dead Donkey, which comments on monochrome painting through intense red and dirty brown hues splotched with vibrant blots of color and marred with sneaker prints. The painting will be the first work by Bowling to be acquired by a German public collection.

“Frank Bowling’s paintings and critical writings have nothing short of redefined the possibilities of paint for the past six decades,” said guest prize juror Zoé Whitley, director of London’s Chisenhale Gallery, who joined the board members of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst in selecting a winner. Whitley noted that “Bowling’s oeuvre preserves histories in pigment, wax and gel. With peerless chromatic and material sensibilities, Frank Bowling establishes rules for himself in the studio which he invents, adheres to and then disrupts with a subsequent series of utterly new rules and parameters for the picture plane. His is a complex thought process executed on canvas, responding to the long tradition of painting in a consistently dynamic manner.”

The eighty-seven-year-old Bowling, whose work is held in than fifty collections around the globe, was additionally a contributing editor of the New York–based Arts Magazine from 1969 to 1972, during which time he contributed significantly to the dialogue on Black artists in America. Recent exhibitions include the solo exhibition “Mappa Mundi” at Haus der Kunst, Munich, in 2017–19 and a major 2019 retrospective of his work at Tate Britain in London. Bowling was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2008 for his services to the arts; last year, he was knighted at the Queen’s birthday ceremony.

The Hahn Prize has been awarded annually since 1994 by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig, to contemporary artists whose work is pathbreaking but who may be relatively unknown in Germany. The prize comes with up to about $116,000, which is used to purchase a work or series by the winner for the Museum Ludwig. An exhibition of the recipient’s work is staged, accompanied by a catalogue.

“Since 2017, when I saw Frank Bowling’s exhibition Mappa Mundi at Haus der Kunst, I hoped to acquire one of his works for the collection of the Museum Ludwig,” said Museum Ludwig director Yilmaz Dziewior. “After all, a work like Flogging the Dead Donkey, in which the spirit of American color field painting and British abstraction combine to form an incomparable, very independent position, represented a gap in our important and multifaceted collection of abstract tendencies. I’m delighted that we can now help bring Frank Bowling’s work the attention it deserves in Germany.”